Whitewall speaks with Montblanc‘s CEO Jérôme Lambert about the writing instrument brand’s commitment to the arts through programs like The Power of Words, collaborations with designers like Marc Newson, and celebrity cultural ambassadors like Charlotte Casiraghi.
WHITEWALL: Montblanc recently worked with Marc Newson on a new writing instrument, called “M.” Can you tell us about that collaboration?
JÉRÔME LAMBERT: Working with Marc, there was a dimension of the traditional writing instrument, combined with a new signature, a new approach, when it comes to product. We had the launch in Milan last June and the product became available in September.
WW: You’ve recently introduced a new design concept to your stores. Can you tell us about working with Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance on the interiors?
JL: We have 250 stores, and we have four different concepts across those stores, so we needed to have a unification of the house. The work that Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance did is really good. It’s been good to show that the maison is capable of embracing modernity, while having a natural link our roots. You enter and it’s a warm environment; you want to spend time there. You’ll see the use of black lacquer and paper wood walls. All the style of Noé is so very amorphic, very natural. And the furniture used to present the product is just a dream, for its shape, its integration. In terms of furniture design, I have never seen anything that nice in luxury for years and years. Noé was really playing with a new alphabet.
WW: You’ve featured Hugh Jackman in your advertising and named Charlotte Casiraghi as the global brand ambassador for Montblanc. What kind of message did you want to convey with these celebrities?
JL: A writing instrument is a strong companion. With a pen, you bring it with you, you write with it, and for me I wanted to find a way to communicate that. When it comes to Hugh Jackman, we were looking to the development of concept of achievement with this world of art and culture. And with Charlotte, I would say it is to convey the same concept of achievement, but with women, in her ability to create a story and to be the incarnation of the modern woman.
WW: Montblanc has been a patron of the artist in a variety of ways. Why has that been important for the brand?
JL: There is a very natural connection between the world of writing, the inspiration, the heart, and the instrument that is part of its creation—whether the novel, the poem, the design or drawings. It’s a natural prolongation of the hand. At Montblanc we like to say we try to make the world more interesting, and that’s a big part of what it is about. The use of a writing instrument creates the opportunity to transcribe your idea, your concept. And to have your writing instrument in its certain shape, size, its particularites, you enrich your field of experience, expression. And, naturally, when you work with expression, experience, inspiration, you get to this art dimension.
WW: You recently showed the work of artists like Hank Willis Thomas, in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, for a project called The Power of Words. Can you tell us about this program?
JL: It’s an amazing question: What is the truth? For us, I would say it’s a very interesting feature when it comes to what we believe our mission is, when we say “making the world more interesting.” Here you have a dimension of interaction, the words themselves are kind of mirror, of the words of Mandela. It is very, very strong, the power of words, and that’s our history with our origin in the writing instrument.
WW: Do you still feel like China, Russia, Brazil, and India, are future strong markets for luxury brands?
JL: I think that the village is the future of luxury, the world village. I would say geography is winning against social groups. At least since 2010, we have seen a new emergence of markets in the Southern Hemisphere, in places like South America, Southeast Asia, and Africa.
This article is published in Whitewall‘s winter 2016 Luxury Issue.